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Shirley’s Way

Mission: The organization provides financial assistance to cancer patients living in Louisville and Southern Indiana. “We send out a lot of gift cards for gas and groceries. We cover utility bills,” says Mary Koppel, patient advocate for Shirley’s Way.  

Impact: Shirley’s Way has gifted over $800,000 since 2014 with a goal of reaching  $1 million in 10 years. 

Volunteers: The organization has a strong base of volunteers but needs sponsorships and donations to continue providing financial assistance. 

Contact: Shirleysway.com


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SPARC Hope, Single Parent Resource Center (formerly Mom’s Closet Resource Center)  

Mission: SPARC Hope encourages single moms and dads to pursue higher education and make career choices that will help them become self supportive. 

Impact: Thirty-nine graduates have completed the program. “A couple of our alumnae are working at Centerstone as social workers. One graduate is now an attorney in Kentucky and Indiana, and she does pro bono for our moms when they need assistance. Another graduate owns her own cabinetry business, and we feel so blessed because we get to see this. We’ve gotten to see some of these moms’ kids go to college, which is really neat,” says Laura Wingfield, executive director of SPARC Hope. 

Volunteers: Volunteers are needed to assist with office duties, manage the in-house grocery store, plan events, write grants, and work with the parents.

Events: SPARC Hope will be having its 8th annual Opening Night fundraiser event at Churchill Downs on April 25.

Contact: Sparc-hope.org

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Lighthouse Academy at Newburg

Mission: Lighthouse Academy at Newburg offers a safe place for students to achieve academic excellence. It provides homework assistance to students starting from kindergarten through eighth grade, Monday through Thursday. “We want to provide an experience that will foster a love for learning. We want to encourage them to learn and enjoy learning,” says Cynthia Overall, director of operations and student services.

Impact: The organization offers a summer and fall camp, which draws more than 100 kids annually and often has a waiting list. Its summer camp starts the second week of June and lasts for five weeks. The fall camp starts the day after Labor Day. “Our program has given the community something to look forward to. We hear all the time that this program has been a big help, and it is free,” Cynthia says. 

Volunteers: Volunteers are needed to assist students with reading and math. 

Events: The first weekend in August, Lighthouse Academy at Newburg has its Health and Back to School Art Fair, where physical exams, eye exams, and school supplies are provided to students. 

Contact: Thelighthousecenter.org

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Mission: Its mission is to promote recovery for people with serious mental illness through behavioral health services, crisis stabilization, case management, and employment services. 

Impact: The organization served 1,000 people in 2019. Kathy Dobbins, CEO of Wellspring, says its partnership with the Coalition for the Homeless and the Metro Housing Authority has enabled them to provide housing for more people. “We were only providing services to people for housing we owned, so it limited the number of people that we could serve,” she says. Now clients have the option of either living in housing provided by Wellspring, or Wellspring can help them secure housing somewhere else. Last year, its crisis unit served 560 people. “Close to 95 percent of the people who come to our crisis units are able to get their crisis stabilized without requiring a more expensive, intrusive in-patient stay and then are able to return home and resume their lives.”  

Volunteers: Volunteers are needed for the upcoming Derby Preview Party, to work on landscaping projects, assist with client holiday parties, and cook meals. Donations are welcome. 

Events: The Derby Preview Party — an annual fundraiser — will be held April 21 at Churchill Downs. 

Contact: Wellspringky.org 

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My Dog Eats First

Mission: My Dog Eats First provides free pet food, supplies, and veterinarian care including free spay and neuter services for the pets of the homeless and the underserved in Louisville. “We do so in a non-judgmental environment, because we understand that finances shouldn’t dictate who is worthy to be loved. Everyone deserves someone who can help them look forward to tomorrow,” says Betheny Buster, founder of My Dog Eats First and owner of Paws Pet Care.

Impact: Betheny says her organization spent nearly $7,000 this year to provide free spay and neuter services, which helps to reduce the homeless pet population. It works with Pets for Life to provide a low-cost veterinarian clinic in West Louisville and pay for emergency pet care. Its annual operating budget is $50,000 which all comes from donations.  

Volunteers: Volunteers are needed to help manage the food bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month at the Table Restaurant. Volunteers are responsible for packaging and distributing pet food along with other supplies.   

Events: Check its website for details. 

Contact: Mydogeatsfirst.org 

P.S. Meet Micki Thomas who has used her interior design skills to execute the perfect volunteer project. 


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